Records over Non-Existing Persons

missing persons

At many conferences in North America, the question often comes up, “What are the records for non-existing persons?”  Volumes titled “records over non-existing persons” appear in the volume list for many parish archives on ArkivDigital’s English interface as shown in the above image.

The “records over non-existing persons” volume or “obefintlighetsbok” is a list of the persons within the parish whose whereabouts are unknown or in other words missing. Whenever a person moved out of the parish, they were supposed to advise the parish minister that they were leaving and where they were moving to. The minister gave the individual a moving out certificate showing information about his birth, last residence, character and religious standing and the minister recorded the information in the household examination book and moving out book. If the individual moved to another parish within Sweden, he or she would give the certificate to the new minister and that minister would record it in the moving in book and the household examination record. This is the reason why in most cases it is easy to trace a person whereabouts in the Swedish books.

However, there were many cases where the person left the parish without telling the minister. Before the 1880’s the ministers had much freedom as to how they would enter information in the household examination books about persons who disappeared. Some would just cross out the name while others would move the person to a “obefintlighet” page in the household examination book or the “obefintlighetsbok”.

In 1894, there was a requirement that the missing should be listing in a special category, “obefintlighet” or whereabouts not known.  Often you will find persons who emigrated without securing the necessary moving out papers in these lists.

You can read this article as well as other Swedish genealogy tutorials on our website in the section titled, Swedish Genealogy.

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